An Election Budget to gain legitimacy for the political assaults on the democratic foundations of Malaysia and the economic scandals of UMNO Baru


Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in the Dewan Rakyat on Monday, 30 the October, 1989 on the 1990 Budget Debate

An Election Budget to gain legitimacy for the political assaults on the democratic foundations of Malaysia and the economic scandals of UMNO Baru

The Finance Minister, Datuk Peduka Daim Zainuddain, has last Friday, when presenting the 1990 Budget, Presented an election budget and made an electioneering speech. IN fact, I cannot remember any budget speech which had been so blatantly electioneering, that anyone who had tuned onto the television to hear only the last 20 per cent of Daim’s speech might have thought the Finance Minister had started on an early general elections campaign on behalf of UMNO Baru.

But what disturbed me most when I heard the final portion of the Finance Minister’s budget speech was the clear impression that he, on behalf of UMNO Baru, was not only using the 1990 budget as an election bait for the people’s votes in the coming general elections, but even more insidious, to use the 1990 budget to gain legitimacy for the string of political assaults on the democratic foundations of Malaysia and the host of economic scandals of UMNO Baru in the past few years.

The Finance Minister boasted about the Sea Games and CHOGM but evidently, what he relished most, was his claim that UMNO Baru had so far survived the ‘doomsday prophecies’ of economic and political collapse.

The attempt by the Finance Minister to equate the economic and political survival of UMNO Baru with the economic and political survival of Malaysia must be refuted and repudiated right from the beginning, for this is completely without any basis.

So, also is his claim that majority of the people are fully behind UMNO Baru in the steps that had been taken to ensure its political and economic survival.

UMNO Baru, and the Barisan Nasional Government, must be reminded that it necer had the support of the majority of Malaysians,. In the 1986 general elections, Barisan Nasional only secured 57.28 per cent of the national parliamentary votes cast, while the DAP polled 21.1 per cent, PAS polled 15.5 percent while other opposition parties made up the rest. Now, with UMNO split into UMNO Baru and Semangat 46, the Barisan Nasional total national parliamentary voter support cannot be more than one-third of total national electorate.

This is the first point. Secondly, how can the Finance Minister claim that the UMNO Baru has the majority support to the people in the steps it had taken to save itself from political and economic collapse?

In his budget speech, Daim said:

“ A strong and effective Government needs the united support of the people . The Government will be able to meet all the needs and aspirations of its people if it is given unflagging support of the people is half hearted. We believe in telling the truth. On this principle, all the people should unite to oppose those who want to hide to twist facts and deceive the people deliberately in order to disturb the stability of the country for their own ends.”

Daim Zainuddin expressed his appreciation and thanks to “all levels of society that have shown their loyalty, confidence and patience in standing periods in economic and political situation, especially over the last five years.”

He said:

“These years tested the resilience, viability, sovereignty and the dignity of our democratic system. Throughout those years all kinds of disasters troubled our nation and its leaders. Various accusations, insults and indignities were hurled at them, together with doomsday prophecies on our economic and political survival, until some of the people were taken in by them and resorted to acts that nearly undermined the stability of the nation. If more people had listened to them, we certainly would have faced havoc. The country would have gone bankrupt. But none of this happened. The country has become stronger and the nation has become more stable. Thanks to God that we were saved from this danger because of the wisdom of majority of the people who knew how to separate truth from falsehood.”

Distortion of History

This is a distortion of history. Two years ago, while this House was at the beginning of its budget debate, the Government launched the infamous Operation Lallang arresting 106 Malaysians, 40 of whom were subsequently served with formal detention centre. At this time, when Malaysians are marking the second anniversary of this infamous Operation Lallang, we the Operation Lallang detainees cannot allow our loss of freedom, the injustices we suffered, the trauma and ordeal our family and loved ones underwent, to be maligned in the manner that has been done y the Finance Minister last Friday.

We categorically and unequivocally refute and challenge the claim implicit in the Budget speech on Friday that for Malaysia’s economic and political well-being, the Government led by UMNO Baru had to do the following in the past three years:

(1) the infamous Operation Lallang for the mass arrests of crtitics and voices of dissent;

(2) the unprecedented assault on the principle of the Independence of the Judiciary, resulting in the sacking of the Lord President, Tun Salleh Abas, and two Suleiman and Datuk George Seah and the cowing of the judges;

(3) the destruction of the doctrine of the Separation of Powers to provide adequate checks and balances to ensure the smooth functioning of the parliamentary democratic system;

(4) the ever-concentration of powers in the hands of the Executive, and in particular in the Prime Minister, by usurpation of powers of Parliament and the Judiciary as in the various highly undemocratic and draconian laws as in the amendments to the Federal Constitution, the Interanal Security Act, the Police Act, the Printing Presses and Publicitions Act, and now the proposed amendment to the Societies Act.

(5) the privatisation of the North-South Highway contract to the UMNO company, United Engineers Malaysia (UEM), and through it to other UMNO corporate creatures, like PLUS and TIME Engineering, veiling the proceedings and transactions from public scrutiny and accountability.

For instance, who was telling the truth about the 1987 Operation Lalang. The 40, who were served with formal detention orders were accused of being grave threats to the national security and public order of Malaysia. Despite the government White Paper on the Oct/Nov. arrests, which has made history in becoming the government document with the least public credibility in the past 32 years, the government document had not been able to convince the people of Malaysia as well as the world at large about the security necessity for the Operation Lallang detentions.

In fact, the government’s own admission that the arrests had nothing to do with national security could best be seen from the fact that not a single one of the 40 Operation Lallang detainees served the full two-year detention order. How could the government be so irresponsible to abuse its ISA powers to detain 40 persons for two-year terms on grave security grounds, when the first batch was released after six months, and Lim Guang Eng and I, the last two to be freed, were released after 18 months? Of course, up to now, I still want to know from the Prime Minister and Home Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, or from the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Haniff Omar, or the Director of Special Branch, Rahim Noor, why Guan Eng was detained for as long as 18 months! Their silence can only mean their guilt at a gross abuse of power.

Why Police interrogators were more interested in my sources of information on North-south Highway scandal

If the Operation Lallang detainees were detained because they constitute a grave threat to the national security, why were my police Investigation Officers more interested in trying to ferret out from me where I had got information about the North-South Highway Scandal of UMNO, and other scandals, like the $2.5 billion Bumiputera Malaysia Finance Scandal; the EPF-Makuwasa shares scandal; the UMBC shares scandal of Daim Zainuddin, the Finance Minister; the mysterious London tin-buying scandal of Maminco, etc?

And what is the truth when the government claimed that the Operation Lallang mass arrests had the support of the people, on the ground that the arrests defused the tensions in the country so that the people could get on with their ordinary task of making a living? Was it not the truth that the defusing of the national tensions and the national sense of relief came, not from the Operation Lallang mass arrests, but the cancellation of the 500,000- people UMNO Rally planned for Nov. 1, 1987 in Merdeka Stadium after a systemic incitement of communal tensions by UMNO leaders, including UMNO Ministers?

How can the Finance Minister have the temerity to come to this House and claim that its political actions in the past few years had the support of the people, and that the government does not want to hide truth and facts?
Charges against Tun Salleh Abas a lie?

Who was telling the truth about the great Judicial Crisis in Malaysia last year, when the Lord President and two Supreme Court Judges were sacked, and at one time, six out of nine of the Supreme Court Judges were suspended pending inquiry into their so-authored with K. Das, entitled MAY DAY FOR JUSTICE, Tun Salleh Abas pointedlyasked:

“Who can believe that every one of the charges against me was anythingbut a pathethic lie?

“Who believes that I was removed for any reason other than the misbegotten belief that my presence in the Judiciary was a threat to the Prime Minister’s ambitions to remain President of UMNO, and so hang on to political power?

“And who believes that the ultimate purpose of the exercise was mot to cow the judiciary completely so that judges will be afraid to make findings against the Government?”

In fact, Tun Salleh Abas went on to ask very relevant and fundamental questions in his book:

“Does the Prime Minister of Malaysia know that the terms “separation of powers”, “rule of law”, “natural justice”, or “unwritten laws” mean?

“Was it sheer coincidence that Operation Lallang took place disabling the most effective Opposition Party in Parliament shortly before the Constitutional amendments to curb the Judiciary were passed?

“Was it really a coincidence that the least sycophantic of our newspapers were effectively shut down by Operation Lallang before the assault on the Judiciary began?

“Can anyone deny today that the Judiciary is not only the weakest branch of the Malaysian Government but that it has also virtually lost its long-nurtured independence?”

Again, who is telling the truth and hiding the facts about the necessity for the Prime Minister and the Executive arrogating to itself even more undemocratic and draconian powers by amending the Federal Constitution, the Internal Security Act, the Police Act, the Printing Presses and Publications Act, and now, the adjudicate into the questions as to the legality of party political elections or decisions?

Finally, who is telling the truth about the award of the privatisation contract of the North-South Highway to the UMNO company, to the extent that Karpal Singh and I had to be detained because we were blocking the award through our legal challenges in the Courts? What is the real connection between the UEM privatisation deals and other UMNO-related companies to other privatisation contracts to the finances of UMNO Baru leaders and to the funding of the UMNO Baru campaign in the coming general elections?

One thing I agree with Dain Zainuddin is that the past few years did test the resilience, viability, sovereignty and dignity of our democratic system. Where else but in Malaysia would the Parliamentary Opposition Leader and Opposition MPs be detained for most flimsy charges of being security threats to the nation, when all that the threatened was the political and economic life-line of the power-that-be, particularly over the North-South Highway scandal of UEM.

Malaysia must re-democratise a laws processes and institutions

The Finance Minister spoke in glowing terms of the Kuala Lumpur CHOGM, and in particular the visit by Queen Elizabeth II. This is a far cry from the Prime Minister’s early days of ‘Buy British Last’. The Finance Minister said the appointment of Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed as Chairman of the High-Level Group on the Future of the Commonwealth is a reflection of the regard and respect which the Commonwealth Heads of Government have for him. The Finance Minister does not inform the people that it is customary courtesy in CHOGM Conferences to invite the host government to chair Commissions, Committees and Study Groups set up during the Conference in the host country.

What the Finance Minister also did not mention is that one of the tasks of this High-Level Group on the Future of the of the Commonwealth is to strengthen democratic institutions and processes in members countries, and in particular, no help member countries to reinforce their election and other constitutional processes to promote representative institutions and guarantee freedoms under the law.

While as a Malaysian, I feel proud as other Malaysians that our Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, has been appointed Chairman of the High-Level Group on the Future on the Commonwealth, can we really believe that Malaysia is qualified and competent to chair such a Study Group with such a brief to strengthen democratic institutions and processes in Commonwealth countries, when in the past three years, democratic institutions and processes in Malaysia had suffered unprecedented assault?

If Dr. Mahathir is to discharge his role as Chairman of the High-Level Group, then the first thing the Malaysian Government must do is to re-democratise the processes and institutions in Malaysia, to give meaningful content to the system of parliamentary democracy in our country.

As a first step, this government must undo all the draconian amendments in the past two years to the Federal Constitution, the Internal Security Act, the Police Act, the Printing Presses and Publications Act, and set up a High-level Study Group in Malaysia to propose democratisation of the processes, laws and institutions in Malaysia.

Call on Malaysian Government to ratify the two International Covenants on Human Rights

The Kuala Lumpur CHOGM Communique released after the Conference had urged all Commonwealth governments which had not yet done so to ratify the two International Covenants of human Rights – the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Malaysia is one of the Commonwealth countries which had not ratified those two International Covenants which, together with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, constitute the International Bills of Rights.

It is most peculiar and odd, to say the least, for Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir to preside over the KL CHOGM and produce a Joint Communique of the Commonwealth heads of governments which can only be seen as a rebuke to those countries which had not ratified theses two International Covenants, when Malaysia herself is not a signatory and has given no indication of her preparedness to ratify these two Covenants.

Malaysia had been among the Commonwealth nations which had criticised the British Prime Minister, Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, for breaking ranks with other Commonwealth countries on the South Africa issue of apartheid after signing the Kuala Lumpur Statement on Southern Africa. But Malaysia is doing the same thing, with our Prime Minister presiding over the Kuala Lumpur CHOGM to produce the KL CHOGM Communique calling on all Commonwealth countries to ratify the two International Covenants, when she has no intention of doing so herself !

I would want to know from the Prime Minister whether the Malaysian Government takes its international commitments and obligations in all seriousness, and arising from the Kuala Lumpur CHOGM Communique, whether it proposes to take immediate action to firstly, democratise the processes, laws and institutions in our political system; and secondly, to ratify the two International Covenants on Human Rights without delay.

The Finance Minister said that the government had spent $40 million on the Kuala Lumpur CHOGM, but this seems to be a gross underestimate which very few Malaysians would believe. The more realistic figure, which is probably hidden under various departments and sub-heads, is closer to $200 – $300 million. The question is whether the CHOGM extravaganza which turned the Federal Capital into a fairyland at night was meant to raise the stocks of the Prime Minister and UMNO Baru for the purposes of the next general elections, or for Malaysia to take her rightful place in the international arena as a responsible, democratic and progressive nation.

$1 billion Bank Bumiputra Scandal II

The Finance Minister’s relish that the UMNO Baru and the Barisan Nasional government had survived the last five years of difficult economic and political situation must stem from his satisfaction that the government had survived the catalogue of financial scandals, which had continued to lengthen after the 1986 general elections – as in the $1.5 co-operation finance scandal, the North-South Highway scandal of UEM, the Central Co-operative Bank Scandal, the $4.5 billion dollars British Arms purchase scandal and lately the $1 billion Bank Bumiputra Scandal II.

There is not a word in the budget speech about corruption and abuse of power, when this has become very rampant in the government. I will give just one instance.

Multi-million dollar fruits import duties exemption scandal for selected few individuals

In July 1987, I brought up in Parliament the scandal of the exemption of import duties to Syarikat Roda Ashita Sdn. Bhd. to import 500 metric tonnes of oranges which caused a loss of $300,000 of duty. Syarikat Roda Ashita Sdn. Bhd. was required to import the fruits secara ‘bulk-bin’/kontena in loose form, which is to be locally packed before they were marketed. These conditions were never complied with.

I had queried why the Finance Minister had been so generous in issuing licence to make money at public expense to private individuals, with good connections to top Barisan Nasional leaders.

On the 14th July 1989, the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Chamber of Commerce & In dustry wrote to the Bahagian Cukai, Perbendaharaan Malaysia, Kementerian Kewangan, asking about the government policy on the exemption of import duties for imported fruits, whether Syarikat Roda Ashita Sdn. Bhd was still granted such import duties exemption, what other companies had been given such exemptions, and how they could apply for such exemptions for their members who were in the trade.

The following reply dated 26th July 1989, (Ref. Kementerian 0.9417 (SJ.I) Vol. 3), was given by the Ministry:

“EN. Poa Soon Teong
Setiausaha Eksekutif,
Dewan Perniagaan dan Perindustrian China
Kuala Lumpur dan Selangor,
No. 1, Jalan Maharajalela,
50150 Kuala Lumpur.

Tuan,

Permohoman untuk mendapatkan pengecualian duit import ke atas buah-buahan

Saya adalah diarah merujuk kepada surat tuan bertarikh 14/7/89 mengenai perkara yang tersebut di atas dan ingin memaklumkan bahawa semenjak akhir tahun1988, permohonan-permohonan baru untuk mendapat pengecualian duit import ke atas buah-buahan tidak akan depertimbangkan lagi.

Sekian harap maklum.

“BERKHIDMAT UNTUK NEGARA”

Saya yang menurut perintah,

(HINDUN BT TAHIR)
BahagianCukai,
b.p Ketua Setiausaha Perbandaharaan.

However, I have seen approvals given in the name of the Minister of Finance for the exemption of import duties on all fruits, and not just confined to one specified fruits item, as last as May 1989.

For instance, in a letter dated 24th May 1989, (Ref. Kementerian (8.20) 113/5/1-5), Zubaidah bt Jabbar of Bahagian Cukai Kementerian Kewangan, informed Malfruit Sdn. Bhd, 38, 2nd floor, Lorong Cempening,, 42000 Port Klang, Selangor (whose real registered address is 1st floor, The Annex , Palza MBF, Jalan Ampang, 50450 KL):

“Tuan,

Permohonan untuk mendapat pengecualian duti import ke atas buah-buahan

“Saya adalah diarah rerujuk kepada surat tuan bil.
M/S/P/Perbendaharan (2) bertarikh 13/12/1988 berhubung dengan perkara diatas.

2.Sukacita dimaklumkan bahawa Y.B Menteri Kewangan mengikut kuasanya di bawah seksyen 14(2) Akta kastam 1967 telah bersetuju mengecualikan Syarikat Malfruit Sdn. Bhd. daripada cukai import bagi pengimportan satu ribu (1000) metric dan buah-buahan untuk dibungkus semula bagi pasaran tempatan.

3. Pengcualian ini adalah untuk tempoh barangan yang diimport pada 1/6/89 hingga 31/5/90.”

This exemption will mean a loss of revenue of over $6600,000 or the issue of a licence worth over $660,000 at public expense.

On 25th May 1989, a similar approval for the exemption of import duties on fruits was given in the name of the Finance Minister to Shudas Sdn. Bhd,. batu 5 3/4, Jalan Muas, Bagan, 83000 Batu Pahat, Johor, (whose registered addresses is 51-4, Jalan Mustafa, 83000 Batu Pahat, Johor) by the same Zubaidah bt Jabbar for 400 metric tonnes of fruits.

I understand that there are at least seven companies which are getting exemption of import duties to import fruits, which is costing the treasury millions of dollars of revenue. These companies apart from Syarikat Roda Ashita Sdn. Bhd. , and Shudas Sdn. Bhd. , are:

Mas Enterprise Sdn. Bhd. ,
Ground floor , Tabung Haji Building , 148 1 Jalan Ipoh , KL.

Yahya Mohammad Sdn. Bhd.
No. 27, Jalan Engan , Batu , Pahat , Johor.

Neela Mas Sdn. Bhd.,
2030-1, Blok B, Jalan Sentul, Jalan Ipoh, KL.

Syarikat Yahya Mohammad Esa Sdn. Bhd. ,
2-24, Lrg. Mei-6 (Tmn Arosa) Jalan haji Taib, Muar , Johor.

The issue of such exemptions from import duties to import fruits is highly questionable because of the following reason:

It is against the government’s own policy to encourage local fruit industry.

It involves mutli-million dollars loss to government revenue for individual gain ;

It is open to abuse and corruption.

What calls for clear explanation is why Cukai Bahagian assured the Kuala Lumpur & Selangor Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry that since late 1988, the Ministry had not given approvals for new applications for exemptions for import duties for fruits, when as late as May 1989, the Finance Minister was merrily issuing away such exemptions licences?

Could it be that the right hand in the Cukai Bahagian does not know that the left hand is doing. I also want to know whether each such exemption had been personally approved by the Finance Minister, Datuk Paduka Daim, himself, and the criteria for such approval. A public inquiry is clearly warranted to inquire into the arbitrary exercise of such powers, which involves issuing licences to make money at the public expense.

Call for Inquiry as to whether the Attorney-General had interfered with the Register of Companies investigations into Chua Mah Yu of Rashid Hussein for insider-trading in MPH shares during Hume take-over bid

The government has a very poor record in upholding public integrity and combating corruption and abuses of power. For instance, I had asked a question about the results of investigations about the police report of insider-trading in the Multi-Purpose Holdings shares during the abortive Hume take-over bid, but the Minister for Trade and Industry, Datuk Paduka Rafidah Aziz’s answer was that nothing had been discover so far. She denied that insider trading investigations by the Registrar of Companies against stokebroker Chua Mah Yu of Rashid Hussein had been interfered with. Such a bald denial is unacceptable. The government cannot be unaware of the allegations widespread in stockbroking circles – that Chua Mah Yu was picked up for the MPH insider-trading investigations and that it was none other than the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Abu Talib, who intervened to get Chua Mah Yu released, and to not to press charges against him. I am sure the Attorney-General would want a public inquiry into this serious allegation to clear his name and that high office as well.

Finally, the stocks of the Anti-corruption Agency cannot be very high, when it is impotent in the face of rampant corruption in high political circles in the country, including Sabah and Sarawak. In Sabah, $8 million of cash was found in the house of a senior State Minister during an Inland Revenue raid. If a State Minister could have $8 million petty cash, one can imagine his total wealth. But the ACA is not allowed to be too imaginative in Malaysia!

Government must mobilise and harness local resources and investments

The Finance Minister prides himself for having been responsible for the upturn of the Malaysian economy after the recession of 1985 and 1986. In fact, the government should be held responsible for its failure to make use of favourable international conditions to bring about a faster and greater economic turnaround for the Malaysian economy.

The government is claiming credit for the significant rise of foreign equity investment in 1988, when there was a 168 per cent increase, attributing it to its liberalisation measures as relaxing requirements of the Industrial Co-ordination Act for investments.

Since 1975, the DAP and other critics had told the Government that the Industrial Co-ordination Act was a major cause for hampering private investment, but we were ridiculed and scorned at. Now the government has belatedly admitted that we were right all along.

The government’s boast about its achievements to turn around the Malaysian economy cannot hide the fact that we had wasted precious time when we had been unable to fully capitalise right from the beginning on the trend where Japan and the Asian Newly Industrialising Economies (ANIEs) were seeking investments overseas because of their rising costs and appreciating currencies. As a result, it was Thailand which was the earliest beneficiary when Malaysia should have better and more attractive conditions. The government must bear responsibility for this loss of opportunity for stronger growth for the Malaysian economy.

However, the greatest failure of the government is its dismal record to fully mobilise local resources and investment. In 1986 and 1987, domestic private investment registered a fall of 27.9 per cent. Why are Malaysian capital and resources locked up in the vaults, and what is worse, flowing out of the country?

If Malaysian can apply the SEA Games spirit to national development, Malaysia can aspire to be in the forefront of development
In fact, we should recognise that most of our development problems are not merely economic, but political and cultural as well. Although Malaysia has a better start-off position than all other countries in Asia, apart from Japan, when we achieved Independence 32 years ago, we have now trailed behind the four little Dragons of Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore, known also as NICs.

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, has said that Malaysia does not want to be a NIC. I think the more pertinent question is why we have allowed ourselves to lose our immense economic advantages over the four countries which had later caught up and gone ahead of Malaysia, when we have the potential to be the first NIC in the world.

It is precisely the same set of political, economic and cultural problems which caused Malaysia to miss our opportunity to be the first NIC which had led us to miss out on the first flush of Japanese and NIC outflow of investment capital which benefited Thailand.

This brings me to the Finance Minister’s reference to the SEA Games, which he said was carried out successfully with the active involvement of the people, with Malaysia securing second place in the tally if nations participating in the Games.

Let us for a moment recapture the spirit of the nation during the SEA Games. On the occasion if the 32bd National Day Celebrations, the entire nation rejoiced over Malaysia’s feats and achievements, and every Malaysian medallist was cheered by all Malaysian, and nobody gave a thought to racial origins in this outpouring of Malaysian consciousness, identity and pride.

The Malaysian SEA Games sportsmen and sportswomen, and the Malaysian people, whether at the sports field or before the television sets at home, were united as one people during the 15th SEA Games.

How unfortunate and tragic it was that after the SEA Games, whether at the schools, institutions of higher learning, government offices, private firms or work-sites, the sportsmen and sportswomen as well as the Malaysian people as a whole, had to return to the ‘real world’ where the unity they had shared in the SEA Games was shattered by the distinction and separation of Malaysians into bumiputras and non-bumiputras.

There was no distinction and separation of Malaysians into bumiputras and non-bumiputras in the SEA Games and Malaysians have shown how they could unite in a common sense of purpose to take Malaysia to a new height of achievement. If we can apply this SEA Games spirit of oneness in our national endeavour in all fields, where everyone could identify himself as a Malaysian first and last, Malaysia is capable of scaling new heights of achievement, including in our economic development.

This is why in the 1990s, the government should stop dividing Malaysians into bumiputras and non-bumiputras, and should discard all policies which generated division and separation, like the NEP policy of racial quotas and percentages.

The State is duty-bound to help the socially and economically backward groups, and this will get the support of all decent and right-thinking Malaysians, but this redressed of social-economic imbalances must be based on an approach and principle which seeks to unify the people and not to divide them.

A policy of racial quotas and percentage aimed to channel state funds or facilities to benefit a small elite of the well-to-do Malays for instance, cannot be supported on any social-economic principle, cannot help the masses of the poor and backward among the Malays, nor secure support among the Malaysian people as a whole, in a particular among the non-Malays. The non-Malays cab fully support special government assistance and help to the poor Malays, but cannot understand or support special government assistance to the rich and well-off Malays.

Call for an end to the Quota System the 1990s, and its replacement by a Policy of Merit and Need

It is for this the DAP calls for the end of the policy of the quota system in the national economic policies of the 1990s, and its replacement by a system of merit coupled with need. Achievement and excellence would be promoted by the policy of merit, while social-economic justice would be advanced by the policy of need which is designed to correct social-economic imbalances. In Malaysia, the overwhelming majority of the poor are the Malays, the Kadazans and Ibans. This means that it would be the Malays, the Kadazans and Ibans who would benefit the most from such a programme based on fulfilling the basic needs of every Malaysian to a decent livelihood and equal opportunity in life.

Such a policy would be race-neutral, and would avoid the grave weakness of the New Economic Policy which, thorough it proclaimed the achievement of national unity as its overriding objective, had the effect of being the single greatest cause of racial polarisation in the past two decades.

DAP to pull out NECC completely if the government has already decided to continue with the policy of racial quotas and percentages in the 1990s

We are very concerned by pronouncement by the Deputy Prime Minister, Ghaffar Baba, and other UMNO Baru Ministers that the quota system would be retained and continued into the 1990s. If this is the case, then the government cannot be sincere in wanting to build a united and just Malaysian nation, which is capable to releasing the potential of the country for development.

If the government has decided to continue the system and policy of racial quotas and percentages into the 1990s, then it is wasting public funds in forming the National Economic Consultative Council (NECC), for it is then clearly not interested in any genuine consultation but going through the motion of seeking views from cross-sections of Malaysians. Let me declare here and now that if the government has already made up its mind, as stated by the Deputy Prime Minister, Ghaffar Baba and other Minister, to continue with the policy and system of racial quotas and percentages in the national economic policies, then there is no purpose of the DAP being in the NECC, and we will resign from the NECC forthwith. I ask the Deputy Prime Minister to give a clear statement on this, whether the government has committed itself to the continuation of the policy and system of racial quotas and percentages after 1990. If the government is not prepared to openly declare that its has not yet made up mind on the quota system, then it can only be assumed that what the Deputy Prime Minister said represented government position, We will then have to act accordingly.

The greatest challenge to the Finance Minister is how he could summon up the 15th SEA Games spirit of national oneness among the people as the directing and motivating principle of national economic development. If this can be done, then will unlock the vast domestic resources, energies and capital which the government had not been able to tap and harness for national development.

Call for repeal of Sections 67 and 70 of the Selangor Islamic Administration Enactment to remove one of the political, cultural and religious obstacles to the summoning up of the SEA Games spirit for national development

In order to summon up the SEA Games spirit for national economic development, the Government must remove all the political, cultural and even religious obstacles which hamper the formation and manifestation of such as a single-minded national purpose. A good example is the Selangor Islamic Administration Enactment which violates the fundamental and Constitutional right of non-Muslim parents to unfettered parental custody, control and guardianship of their children below 18 years of age, and to freedom of religion.

Although the MCA President, Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik, and other MCA leaders have claimed that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Mahathir Mohamed and the Selangor Mentri Besar, Tan Sri Mohamed Taib had agreed that these two would be resolved in the ‘Barisan Nasional spirit’, the Selangor State Government had gone ahead regardless of such assurances to gazette the Enactment into law on Sept. 28.

Two days ago, the eight MCA Selangor State Assemblymen staged an act by sending a joint letter to the Selangor Mentri Besar appealing to him to amend the two sections in the Selangor Assembly. They were doing this for the Sungai Besar by-election votes who are to cast their votes on Nov. 1. But the eight Selangor MCA Assemblymen by the top MCA national leaders that this problem had been resolved in the Barisan Nasional Spirit are pure lies – for if that is the case, then there is no need for the right Selangor MCA Assemblymen to send a joint letter to the Mentri Besar, but just to announce the Mentri Besar’s assurance of their amendment in December.

This controversy of the Selangor Islamic Administration Enactment should not be dragged I any further, for it is these insensitive actions which had created political, cultural and religious obstacles to the full harnessing and mobilisation of the resources, energies and potential in Malaysia.

Another such example is the recent announcement by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Dr. Yusof Noor, that the Government was intensifying its Islamisation policy in the country’s administration, economy, law and education system; and that to carry out such intensification of Islamisation in Malaysia, a panel of international Islamic experts comprising theologians would be set up who would act as a source of refrence for the implementation of Islamic economy, law and education system.

I want to ask whether this intensification of Ialamisation of the country’s administration, economy, law and education system is unilaterally decided by the Prime Minister’s Department, or the result of a Cabinet decision with the full support of MCA, Gerakan, MIC, PBS, SUPP Ministers?

There is a strong need for the government to reaffirm, both in word and deeds, that Malaysia will remain a secular state as provided in the Malaysian Constitution. Any attempt to take the country towards as Islamic Malaysia through the Islamisation of the Malaysian administration, economy, law Constitutional guarantee of a secular system of government.

Is the 1990 Budget debate academic, as there would have to be another 1990 budget debate after next general elections?

The Finance Minister has made a most unusual budget presentation last Friday, which will spark off a most unusual budget debate. One reason must be whether the Parliamentary debate on the 1990 Budget would be rendered academic and irrelevant, if Parliament is dissolved before the 1990 Budget could pass both Houses of Parliament and receive the Royal Assent in late December.

The prime Minister has the prerogative under the Constitution to decide on the date of dissolution, but there are certain constitutional proprieties he is expected to observe if he intends to dissolve Parliament in mid-session for a general election to be held.

Constitutional propriety would be fully complied if the Prime Minister has to advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to dissolve Parliament during mid-session if he loses a vote of confidence in Parliament, or could not get a government bill or motion passed. At the present moment, with its two-third parliament majority in Parliament, the question of the government losing a vote of confidence, directly or indirectly, does not arise.

Under these circumstances, it would be highly cynical, improper and utterly contemptuous of the whole system of parliamentary democracy, should the Prime Minister call Parliament into meeting for two long months to debate and pass various government bills, and also to debate the 1990 Budget half way, and then to decide to have Parliament dissolved, with all the Bills and debate on the 1990 Budget lapsing to no purpose whatsoever. This would be highly contemptuous of the role of MPs and Parliament by the Prime Minister. If the Prime Minister wants to have general elections in November or December, then he should not have called Parliament into session on Oct. 16 in the first place.

I do not want to influence the Prime Minister in his decision as to when is the best time for him call general elections, but in exercising his Constitutional prerogative, he must comply with democratic, parliamentary and constitutional proprieties, or he would merely be making use of Parliament as his servant, at his back and call, when it is the Prime Minister who should be the servant of Parliament.

I do not want to influence the Prime Minister in his decision as to when is the best time for him to call general elections, but in exercising his Constitutional prerogative, he must comply with democratic, parliamentary and constitutional proprieties, or he would merely be making use of Parliament as his servant, at his back and call, when it is the Prime Minister who should be the servant of Parliament.

In view of the general elections atmosphere that has been deliberately created by the Prime Minister, MPs cannot help wonder whether the various debates in the current Parliament would be academic, in that there would have to be another debate on the same subjects next year if Parliament is dissolved in mid-session.

As a said, this is an unusual budget, and it will give rise to an unusual budget debate. I will leave to my other colleagues to deal with the various budgetary proposals in the 1990 Budget.